Tue, Nov 23, 2004 - Page 6 News List

Sudanese rebels welcome plans for UN troops in Darfur

AFP AND AP , NAIROBI AND CAIRO

Sudan's main rebel group yesterday welcomed the planned deployment of UN troops in southern Sudan once a final deal is signed to end one of Africa's longest and bloodiest wars.

"This is good news. The deployment will go a long way to support the restoration of peace in southern Sudan," Sudan People's Liberation Movement/Army (SPLM/A) spokesman George Garang said in Nairobi.

Meanwhile, reports of clashes in and around a village in northern Darfur continue to disturb food delivery to thousands of the displaced, UN officials said on Sunday.

One road west of El Fasher, the capital of North Darfur, leading to the town of Tawilla has been declared a "no-go" zone for UN personnel following reports of "serious disturbances" and rumors of "heavy skirmishes" between the government and the rebel SPLM/A, said Barry Came, a World Food Program (WFP) staffer in Khartoum.

Came said a sense of security prevailed for a couple of days after accords were signed between the Sudanese government and the two main rebel groups on Nov. 10 in Nigeria, promising aid organizations unfettered access to Darfur's displaced cause and banning "hostile" military flights over the region.

"For a couple of days last week it looked like there was a lessening of tension," he said, adding that a camp that hosts 150,000 displaced in Jabal Mara mountains was reached by aid convoys for the first time in two weeks.

WFP trucks loaded with 235 metric tonnes of food were stuck in El Fasher for two days, before commercial trucks instead carried the food to Tawilla on Sunday, Came said.

An eight-member team of African Union Commission personnel left to Tawilla on Sunday to investigate the complaints.

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